Govt gets involved to cut food waste

Updated: 2012-12-04 06:58

By Fan Feifei(HK Edition)

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Govt gets involved to cut food waste

The government is getting actively involved in efforts to cut food waste, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said on Monday, announcing the government will set up a committee to implement the task.

Wong said, after meeting with scholars, representatives of environmental groups and industries to discuss waste fees, that food waste takes up 40 percent of the solid waste disposed in Hong Kong's landfills. About 10 percent of that can be cut, based on overseas experience, the secretary said.

The committee, Food Wise Hong Kong Steering Committee, will comprise representatives of the catering industry, hotels, retail, property management, education, green groups and food recipient organizations, as well as government departments.

Wong said the committee will be responsible for formulating and overseeing implementation strategies of the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign, which aims to promote public awareness of food waste problems and coordinate efforts within the government and public institutions to lead by example. Besides, it will engage the individual and household levels in reducing food waste, draw up and promote good practices for food waste reduction at commercial and industrial establishments, and facilitate food donations to charitable organizations from establishments with surplus food, Wong added.

The committee, which will initially operate for three years, will convene its first meeting on December 6.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Earth said an increasing number of people support garbage collection fees to reduce the volume of rubbish, according to its poll in November.

The survey found that 65 percent of residents support garbage collection fees, based on quantity of waste.In an earlier survey this year, only 52 percent supported the levy. Opposition to the fees also dropped from 35 percent of those surveyed earlier this year, to 25 percent.

The organization said this reflected the "pay-as-you-throw" policy has gradually become mainstream opinion. With reference to foreign experience, once garbage fees come into effect, the result is a 20-40 percent garbage reduction after one year, the group said.

About 1,000 residents were interviewed in the study. However, about 20 percent of residents feared the levy would be too high, and increase the burden on the poor.

The organization said the suggested fee would be HK$45 for each family referring to the practices of foreign countries and that handling expenses for each bag of rubbish would be about HK$1.5.

It called on the government to devise a series of long-term proposals as soon as possible, and give a clearer explanation on the way to implement the scheme and the potential fee to be charged.

Business representatives say the garbage crisis in Hong Kong is serious and that they support the garbage collection fees on a "user pays" basis, but the level of charge should be discussed.

Wong responded that the authority will put forward garbage collection fees to the Legislative Council this year, but the details of the proposal should be consulted further. As to the level of fees, he said the government held an open attitude.

(HK Edition 12/04/2012 page1)